In the evening of September 11, a billboard in Vancouver Canada spelled out: "I ❤️ J.K. Rowling", but it has already been removed.
The billboard went up on a busy part of Hastings Street in Vancouver at 6:30 am, it was bought and paid for by Amy Hamm and Chris Elston. Amy stated to adland "Chris did the leg work and we are fundraising to put more up."
The design and concept was created by Kellie-Jay Keen, aka "Posie Parker" who was on the Adland podcast episode 8 speaking about this and her other controversial "woman - adult human female" campaign. Hamm and Elston imported the concept to Canada to raise awareness of women's rights, and simultaneously they've now made a point about freedom of speech.
"I don't think it's possible for women to defend their legal rights or even the definition of womanhood if anybody can say that they are a woman and it will be so," said Hamm, who also organizes gender identity ideology events through a group known as GIDYVR.
Elston also said to CBC : "This is about safeguarding women's rights, safeguarding children, it's about free speech," he said. "J.K. Rowling has been cancelled."
It was in December of last year that the author of the globally beloved Harry Potter series, JK Rowling, tweeted "Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? " in support of Maya Forstater, who lost her job and later a preliminary tribunal hearing because the judge said her view that humans can not change their birth sex could not be considered a philosophical belief under the Equality Act.
JK Rowling was then attacked on Twitter and in some media for being "transphobic" with that tweet, so she elaborated on her reasons for speaking out on sex and gender issues in an article on her website in response. It's now gone so far that you can't put up a billboard declaring your love for the author in neither Edinburgh or Vancouver without the billboard being immediately removed.
Merely hours after this billboard went up, Vancouver City Councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung tweeted "I’m condemning this clear, intentional messaging meant to stoke hate, exclusion & division." directly at Pattison Outdoor - the owners of the media channel - after she was contacted by a supposed local Tweeter with a rainbow decorated username.
By mid-afternoon on Saturday, a work crew arrived and began covering up the billboard, which had been vandalized with paint bombs during the day.
Pattison Outdoor has not responded to requests for comment as to why the billboard was removed, but it seems clear that it was thanks to the pressure from city council as Vancouver City Councillor Kirby-Young tweeted: "I’ve reached out to City staff to see if the City has any recourse for this location with the goal of having it taken down." Though Kirby-Young wants to be clear that this is not "about women Who [sic] spreading their own views which everyone should be free to do. It is about expressing hate against another group."
The logic in this statement is missing, I feel. Unless J K Rowling is Hitler now. Declaring your love of Hitler and his book "Mein Kampf" may be tantamount to expressing hate against another group. I guess I missed the "Rowling is now Hitler" memo.
Pattison Signs cancels JK Rowling. Could I have a billboard in Vancouver that said “I ❤️ Stephen King” ? I’m pretty sure I could. So can JK Rowland rent a billboard from Pattison Signs to promote her own books? Or is one of the world’s best selling author simply cancelled? pic.twitter.com/jRXsQ0zb4q
— Marc Emery (@MarcScottEmery) September 13, 2020
The Postmillennial reports at length that the organizers of the billboard are being harassed on social media. The simple "I ❤️" pastiche of the Milton Glaser slogan and logo created in 1976 for New York has turned out to be remarkably effective in generating PR for billboards that are only seen live for a very short time. Why the media companies are so quick to remove media that was bought and paid for and thus return the money, is not entirely clear.
Charles Adler, Canadian host of the "CharlesAdlerTonight" Global News Radio Network show, agrees that this "I ❤️" campaign, designed to provoke discussion around women's rights, is somehow "phobic".
Thank you Councillor for saying it the way it needs to be said. Rowling is a talented fiction writer. But her unrelenting stream of phobic fiction doesn't need to be celebrated in a community where "social progress" isn't just another cheap slogan on a billboard. #takeitdown https://t.co/vR8tP3F2zt
— Charles Adler (@charlesadler) September 12, 2020
Sophia Banks, a trans-identified male, claims that the love message on this billboard "encourages male violence against us" and that it "encourages child abuse".
Let me explain something as a trans woman about this billboard in Vancouver. This message is calling me (a trans woman) a dangerous predator who should be denied access to women’s spaces. It encourages male violence against us. It encourages child abuse pic.twitter.com/w0tFdtw4w4
— Sophia Banks (@sophiaphotos) September 12, 2020
Elston and Hamm believe that the sign was taken down by Pattison because of all the complaints made to the company. They are however, not discouraged.
"Women's rights are important and we need to stand up for them and it's not transphobic to do so," said Hamm.